Posts Tagged ‘Malays’

The Price of Malaysia’s Racism

Posted on the February 8th, 2011 under Politik by

malottMalaysia’s national tourism agency promotes the country as “a bubbling, bustling melting pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony.” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak echoed this view when he announced his government’s theme, One Malaysia. “What makes Malaysia unique,” Mr. Najib said, “is the diversity of our peoples. One Malaysia’s goal is to preserve and enhance this unity in diversity, which has always been our strength and remains our best hope for the future.”

If Mr. Najib is serious about achieving that goal, a long look in the mirror might be in order first. Despite the government’s new catchphrase, racial and religious tensions are higher today than when Mr. Najib took office in 2009. Indeed, they are worse than at any time since 1969, when at least 200 people died in racial clashes between the majority Malay and minority Chinese communities. The recent deterioration is due to the troubling fact that the country’s leadership is tolerating, and in some cases provoking, ethnic factionalism through words and actions.

For instance, when the Catholic archbishop of Kuala Lumpur invited the prime minister for a Christmas Day open house last December, Hardev Kaur, an aide to Mr. Najib, said Christian crosses would have to be removed. There could be no carols or prayers, so as not to offend the prime minister, who is Muslim. Ms. Kaur later insisted that she “had made it clear that it was a request and not an instruction,” as if any Malaysian could say no to a request from the prime minister’s office.

Similar examples of insensitivity abound. In September 2009, Minister of Home Affairs Hishammuddin Onn met with protesters who had carried the decapitated head of a cow, a sacred animal in the Hindu religion, to an Indian temple. Mr. Hishammuddin then held a press conference defending their actions. Two months later, Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told Parliament that one reason Malaysia’s armed forces are overwhelmingly Malay is that other ethnic groups have a “low spirit of patriotism.” Under public pressure, he later apologized.

Umno-MCA Open Warfare In Tenang Proves BN Collapsing

Posted on the January 25th, 2011 under Politik by

tony_puaThe open warfare between UMNO Deputy President, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek on the simple issue of respecting an individual’s religious sensitivity proves that the BN coalition is a 50-year marriage of convenience which is cracking at the seams.

Muhyiddin had to openly chastise Dr Chua to respect the choices of an individual, particularly one’s religious beliefs, specifically with regard to the issue of Muslim women “shaking hands” with men.  As the Pakatan Rakyat parties have all pointed out, and agreed by Muhyiddin, there are many other issues of importance to discuss in an election, than about whether a Muslim woman should shake men’s hands.

Dr Chua in return, rebuked Muhyiddin for bringing the issue into the open instead of “communicating through internal channels”.  He told reporters yesterday that they could go and tell Muhyiddin what he just said.  Instead of putting the issue to a close, he persisted by repeating his claim that “shaking hands” is “good manners”, implying that the PAS candidate, Cikgu Normala Sudirman had bad manners for sticking to her religious beliefs.

The strain between the two race-based parties is completely understandable given that UMNO and MCA seeks only to draw the votes of Malays and Chinese respectively and do not care about the sentiments of the other communities.  MCA for example, isn’t bother about the impact of its comments on Malay Muslims because it will do all that is necessary, including playing on the fear of Islam to gain the votes of the Chinese.  On the other hand, UMNO will not hesitate to play on the Malay’s fear of losing political power to the Chinese to frighten the Malays into voting for UMNO.